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FIRST PHASE: Beirut Peacemakers Memorial Tower in Port Charlotte progressing

Tower honors 241 American military members killed in 1983 bombing, including Cpl. William R. Gaines of Port Charlotte
Beirut Peacemakers Memorial Tower
Posted at 10:13 PM, Feb 21, 2024

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — The concrete piles seen at William R Gaines Jr. Veterans Memorial Park in Charlotte County are all part of a project to forever remember the 241 American service members who tragically lost their lives in a suicide bombing in Lebanon on October 23, 1983.

It's all part of the Beirut Peacekeepers Memorial Tower.

"The three-story tower is going to provide an educational experience, not just for our young folks in town, but the whole community, to understand what happened in Beirut," said Charlotte County Commissioner Stephen R. Deutsch.

"They were there to try and help stabilize and create a peaceful environment for the people of Lebanon," Michael Gaines said. His brother, William R Gaines Jr., was one of the service members who died in Beirut.

The project holds a special place in Michael's heart.

"From a personal standpoint, I wanted a place where people could remember the story, the sacrifice of others, and especially my brother," Michael said.

Bill Gaines, a Port Charlotte native and a corporal in the Marine Corps, was only 21-years-old when he died.

His story will live on at William R Gaines Jr. Veterans Memorial Park.

“We’re going to have some learning components as part of this Phase I, and we’re also going to build the tiers that go on the base of the tower to sort of represent the crater from the explosion," Zachary Holzworth, Property Manager of Willis A. Smith Construction, Inc. said.

The tower will also symbolize freedom.

“When you go up this tower, you’re actually going to be able to see this harbor, and you’re going to be able to see Charlotte County in a little bit of a different way," Michael said. "I think, you’ll really understand why we come out, why we play and why we have these things. It’s because of people who are willing to sacrifice.”

Phase II of the project is expected to begin in July. The end goal is to have the tower completed by the winter of next year.